Thumbing Through Life

Thumbing Through Life

My wife and I have three daughters. All three are ‘wells of hyperbole,’ you know those over-the-top ways parents describe their children: wonderful, beautiful, delightful, amazing, AWESOME! The difference in my case however (and I’m being completely objective here), is that these adjectives area 100% accurate. My girls are all those things and more.

Our eldest is 16 and firmly in the midst of her teenage years. She excels at nearly everything she engages in and is a model student. He mom and I couldn’t be prouder. When she was 13, we decided, somehow, that it would be an excellent idea to get her a cell phone of her own. It was a momentous occasion and one that will long be remembered.

In those early days, the phone was new and the possibilities were yet unexplored. She enjoyed using it to arrange a time for one of us to pick her up from her dance class, or from a friend’s house after school. It served the very purpose for which it had been acquired. My wife and I nearly dislocated our arms by patting ourselves on the back for displaying such wisdom and astute parenting skills.

She came home from school one day and announced that all her friends were doing something called ‘texting’ and she wanted to know if her phone could do it too. We had no idea. One call Verizon and, yep, we had texting enabled; up to 250 texts per month. More than enough, we thought. Have at it, text away up to our collective 250 message limit.

It didn’t take her, or us, long to find out that 250 messages would not only NOT last a month, 250 would barely last ONE DAY! That after I discovered that every text over the allotted 250 cost me $.10. Therefore, a conversation of, “whatcha doin?” “IDK”, etc. for a few minutes could add up quick. Something had to be done, and fast.

After much debate and deliberation, we finally landed on an unlimited plan, and she was in texting heaven. Through the months we discovered that this new form of communication would begin to assert an insidious influence on our daughter. Gradually, she began forgetting how to talk in real sentences and instead spoke in abbreviated grunts and short acronyms, the meaning of which I have yet to understand.

A quick Google query showed that this texting epidemic was not unique to our daughter, but was sweeping over the world in a tidal wave of texts, all generated from a flurry of thumbs and bevy of letters like, IDK, BFF, TTYL, etc. There are a million more of these shortened sentences, and I became concerned that the lauded phone could be turning our daughter’s brain to mush and her thumbs into Olympic athletes.

We sat our daughter down and set some guidelines to help regulate this new perpetual connectivity. No texting after 10:00 p.m. or before 6:00 a.m. No texting at the dinner table or during family time. Absolutely no texting in Church or in class at school.

Admittedly, we’ve had our struggles, and she’s lost her phone privileges from time to time, but for the most part, we think we may haveat least put a leash on the texting beast.

I realize that kids these days (hmmm, that sounds a lot like something my dad would say…), need to stay in touch with their friends, and being off the network can make them feel unconnected and out of the loop. I guess I just feel that there is still value in picking up the phone and having a vocal conversation with someone wherein you are required to formulate your thoughts and them verbalize them in a coherent, cogent fashion that is impossible to do via short bursts of 140 characters or less. The dynamic is different and the results lead to a different kind of relationship.

My hope is that our daughter will come to understand the limitations of basing her entire foundation of communication on what her thumbs can type out in fewer than 140 characters and work to add in and become astute in the richer dimension of verbal communication. Think of what she, or all of us for that matter, could do if she could master both forms.

Rules for life…
The last iPhone I bought came beautifully packaged. The designers over at Apple really knew what they were doing when they decided to make opening their product box a joyful experience. Every step of opening it was a moment of discovery. Once I got the lid off and held the device in my hand, I wanted to turn it on and start playing with the thing but I resisted so I could read the setup instructions. Once I went through each step-by-beautifully-designed-step, my phone was on, connected to the internet, held my contacts and emails and I was ready to take on life.

Ever wonder why we’re not issued a step-by-beautifully-designed-step instruction manual on the day we’re born? Sure, we have parents, teachers, trusted friends, and religious leaders who we believe speak for God on our behalf, and others whom we confide in and listen to. We have holy scripture and inspired men and women who impart the wisdom of the ages to help guide our decisions, and all those can also act as instruction manuals for life. I’m certainly indebted to all such influences in my own life.

Then we have good, old-fashioned common sense, some of which is what my father-in-law emailed me today. It’s a list he must have come across and felt it was share-worthy, which is what I’m doing for you.

Take a look. It’s taken from life’s little instruction manual and written by Regina Brett, a 90-year-old sage, of the Plain Dealer, over in Cleveland, Ohio.

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck, 10 % is a good start.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters, in the end, is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

Pretty good advice.

This my perspective. What’s yours?

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